ABX3 14 passed the California State Senate Thursday night with a yes vote from Oakland’s only representative in the State Senate, Loni Hancock, but it is now in the assembly, where a vote may be held as early as this Monday (August 24th). Contact information for your assembly members are at the end of this article.
Law enforcement agencies and District Attorneys across California oppose this bill, because it will make their jobs harder, and living in Oakland even more dangerous. This is a full on disaster of the first degree, and it means that our chances of looking down the barrel of a gun while fumbling for the valuables, which may or may not save our lives will increase substantially, especially in Oakland. This is a sure recipe for an increase in crime in Oakland, which is already spiking.
PLEASE read the analysis by the District Attorney’s office below (in the quote boxes), followed by my comments.
The biggest issues have to do with early release of prisoners, but there are substantial changes to the law which are designed to keep people out of prison by turning former felonies into misdemeanors, and preventing repeat offenders from getting longer sentences. It also gives new powers to a new unaccountable Governor appointed commission which would have the power to change prison sentences, and sentencing guidelines, and to release even more than the 27,000 to 40,000 prisoners who will be released early by this legislation.
Look at each bullet point (how apt).
- Summary parole, whereby low and moderate risk inmates without violent, serious, or sex offenses would be paroled to banked caseloads. These parolees would not be eligible for parole revocation, but would be subject to search and seizure. CDCR would use a parole violation decision-making instrument to determine sanctions for parole violators. In other words, the parolees would be released with no supervision and no ability to violate parole.
Read that last sentence again: The parolees would be released with no supervision and no ability to violate parole. Keep in mind that many inmates have already pleaded down their violent, serious, or sex offenses, so they are serving time for lesser violations, which may allow them to qualify for early release. They will be released with no parole supervision. None! Nor could they be returned to prison for violating parole! DA offices across California are scrambling to try to find a way to keep things like stay away orders, search clauses and other conditions of parole in place, but the entire concept of parole is being eliminated for up to 40,000 early release prisoners. The only way to return the career criminals who will start preying on the community will be to charge them with a new crime (which may be reduced to a lesser charge and probation granted more easily than before). This is a proposal that just speeds up the revolving door of the criminal justice system to warp speed.
- Index property crime thresholds to inflation. The $400 threshold would be increased to approximately $950, with the exception of grand theft (including vehicle theft), which would increase to $2,500.
Think of this as a “cost of stealing” increase, just like people think of a “cost of living raise.” The difference between petty theft (a misdemeanor) and grand theft (a felony) had been $400.00, this bills changes it to $2,500! This is particularly unfair to those who have cars worth less than the new threshold (almost all car theft has been charged as a felony), because now car thieves who only need a car for crime will purposely target the cars of those who can least afford to lose them). Also, receiving stolen property will be an automatic misdemeanor, no matter what the value of the stolen goods are. So criminals who run huge fencing operations or chop shops can only be charged with a misdemeanor! Misdemeanors allow for probation, with no jail time, and if the community is willing to accept releasing prisoners without parole supervision, why not release career criminals with no probation supervision?
- Convert the crimes of writing bad checks, receiving stolen property, and petty theft with a prior from wobblers to straight misdemeanor for which county jail is the only incarceration available, no matter how many priors or how many offenses are committed.
District Attorneys have discretion in whether to charge a case as a misdemeanor or a felony based on enhancements, such as prior offenses. This would remove that discretion. All criminals would be treated as if this was their first crime no matter how much of a “frequent flier” they were in the system. The revolving door I referred to earlier doesn’t even revolve, no one even goes in, so no one has to come out!
- Create an alternative system of custody (house detention and GPS monitoring) for inmates who are determinately sentenced (meaning giving a set amount of time in custody) and have less than 12 months to serve, are over the age of 60, or are permanently medically incapacitated. In other words, early release with no supervision.
The “alternative system” is no system at all! House detention and GPS monitoring without the resources to monitor the parolees is absolutely meaningless!
- Commutation (reducing) of sentences of specified criminal aliens that does not require a vote of the Legislature.
This is a proposal to release non-citizens and deport them. With even a mid-priced cayote, these prisoners could be back in California faster than it takes to deport them. Only this time, they will know that California is giving out get out of jail free cards like a realtor at an open house, so they are sure to bring up a few friends or accomplices back with them. 1 in 7 non-citizens who commit crime in California and deported are arrested again!
- Up to six weeks of time credits for inmates who complete vocational, educational, or substance abuse programs. Allows day-for-day credits for jail inmates who have been sentenced to felony punishment and are awaiting transfer to CDCR.
This appears to be one of the few sensible provisions in this bill, and is already done as a matter of law and practice.
ABX3 14 was passed Thursday night by the Senate, including Senator Loni Hancock.
You can read the full text of the bill here.
It will come up for a vote in the Assembly on Monday, and there are three members of the assembly who represent Oakland, all listed below. If you want to see a huge increase in the crime rate in Oakland, you need do nothing further. If you would prefer that the criminals that many community groups have worked so hard to lock up, in cooperation with OPD and the DAs Office, you need to at least call your assembly member.
Assemblyperson Sandre Swanson represents the 16th District, which is most of Oakland, except Rockridge and the easternmost tip of Oakland near the zoo. Here is his contact info. Scott Lucas (email@example.com. is the designated point person for Assemblyperson Swanson on this, and says he welcomes all e-mails, which will be passed on to Mr. Swanson): Tel: (510) 286-1670
Assemblymember Nancy Skinner represents the 14th District, which includes Rockridge and north Oakland: (510) 286-1400
Assemblymember Mary Hayashi represents the 18th District, which includes the Millsmont and Eastmont hills neighborhoods in Oakland: (510) 583-8818